A Day in the Life of a Psychologist in the Pilbara

A Day in the Life of a Psychologist in the Pilbara


My name’s Shannon McNeal, and I’m a Psychologist in the Department working in the Pilbara, in the Karratha office today. So the area that I cover is Karratha, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Wickham and Roebourne. So after working several years in the Department of Health in Child Adolescent Mental Health, I wanted more of a challenge of working more directly with children with complex trauma backgrounds and that is the work that is here. It is very challenging and you have to work really quickly on your feet. This is my third year in Karratha and I’m really enjoying and feeling quite settled here. I’ve made a lot of good friends here, in our office and in our workplace as well as outsiders through other parents; their kids play sport together and now we’re playing sport together as adults. It’s good clean living, fresh air, open spaces, it’s great. The day entails starting with a good coffee, a lot of emails, planning to see my clients, and going to see them if they’re at home, at school, or even accompanying them to some really hard things they need to go through. Traveling to see them. Some of my clients are in remote locations, so yes, seeing children is a daily routine. Writing reports, undertaking assessments. In my role, I report to the District Director; she’s my line manager. And she supports my role. I also have a senior consultant at psychology services back in Perth and she provides more direct psychological input It’s really important to have a way to manage your level of stress. I love exercise. First thing I like to do is put on my running shoes and go for a walk with my dog. He’s a really good outlet, and it’s something I share with the kids I work with as well. The rewards that I feel like I’ve achieved and is about learning, I think that I’m still learning in my role, and I’m learning from the clients that I work with. I think I’ve been able to become more and more reflective in each session. So trying to understand what the kids are saying to me in all the different ways that they say that. Some of the challenges are supporting our staff, Child Protection staff, to understand what the child is really trying to tell us in their behaviors. So that’s not really about what you see is what you get. If they’re being aggressive and doing certain things, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to be left alone or pushed away. If a child can work with me to be able to manage their emotions and and what’s happening for them enough just to feel safe and feel connected with their family. I hope to achieve that every day with them.


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